CJ's Corner - Intriguing Seedings

Ever since Stanford racked up wins in the preseason NIT against Xavier and Florida, Cardinalmaniacs have been debating RPI, strength of schedule and what that all would mean for seeding. No surprise, the Card received the expected #4 seed and Western pod, but some other seedings teach us important lessons on the Selection Committee's criteria.

The talking heads were busy Sunday afternoon arguing about the Committee's decisions on certain bubble teams (e.g. Auburn and Alabama in, Boston College and Seton Hall out) and the placement of Kentucky and Arizona in the same half of the draw.  Lost in the shuffle was any discussion of some surprising and perhaps questionable seeding decisions.  Four seeding decisions jump out at me as being controversial.  Before I name the teams involved, consider approximately where you think the following four teams (listed in order of their RPI rankings) might have been seeded:

Team A
Record: 23-7
RPI: 16
SOS: 38
Record v. RPI Top 50: 2-6
Last 10: 7-3

Team B
Record: 23-8
RPI: 19
SOS: 24
Record v. RPI Top 50: 7-3
Last 10: 7-3

Team C
Record: 23-9
RPI: 50
SOS: 88
Record v. RPI Top 50: 4-7
Last 10: 7-3

Team D
Record 18-11
RPI: 53
SOS: 45
Record v. RPI Top 50: 2-8
Last 10: 5-5

Believe it or not, Teams A and B were seeded #9 and #12, respectively, while Teams C and D were seeded #8 and #9.  Team A is Utah; Team B is BYU; Team C is Oregon; and Team D is North Carolina State

It appears that the RPI is becoming less important than ever before in the seeding process.  A team ranked #19 in the RPI receiving a #12 seed is remarkable, as is a team ranked 16 in the RPI receiving a 9 seed.  BYU and Utah were probably also hurt by their early exits from the conference tournament, which bring me to my next point...

Results in conference tournaments are arguably receiving undue weight in the seeding process.  Oregon certainly deserves credit for its three wins in the Pac-10 tournament despite it's 10-8 regular season performance in conference play, but those three wins in the tournament came against the 4, 8 and 7 seeds.  Of Oregon's limited number of quality wins, only one (ASU at Staples) was achieved on the road or at a neutral site. 

North Carolina State is another team that apparently benefited tremendously from its conference tournament.  The Wolfpack were certainly on the wrong side of the bubble entering the ACC tournament, but a single quality win (against Wake Forest), was effectively enough to garner an at-large bid. With an RPI of 53, a dismal record against the RPI top 50 and a 5-5 record in its final 10 games, the Wolfpack demonstrate that the Committee can be swayed by a mere run of a game or two in conference tournament play.  It's debatable whether the Pack should have even made the field of 65, let alone received a 9 seed (instead of a 12).

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